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Peter Protopsaltis - a typical Australian immigrant with a legacy in Australian law

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Panagiotis Protopsaltis was born in Mitata to Manolis Protopsaltis and Elena Sklavou on 15 January 1884 and was baptised on 20 January 1884 in Agios Dimitiros church in Mitata.

Argiro Theodorakaki was born to Georgakis Theodorakakis (Nikolianakos) and Chrisoula Panareto in Potamos on 1 December 1886 and baptised in Agios Ioannis Prodromou church on the 12th.

Panagiotis and Argiro were married in Ilaritoisa church in Potamos on 9 January 1911. Not long after their marriage, like many other Kytherians at the time, they moved to Australia. They had a daughter Efthemia. They lived at Warwick, Queensland.

Peter, as he was known in Australia, donated money to Kytherian causes such as the building of Chora high school, construction of the road from Aroniadika and Diakofti and probably others.

It seems the marriage was not a happy one. On 14 June 1918, Argiri was granted a divorce from Peter on the grounds of desertion and misconduct. Argiri was given full custody of their daughters and Peter was ordered to pay all costs.

Peter spent most of his life in Sydney. It is probable that he moved to Sydney to abandon his wife and child in Queensland.

Nothing more has been found for Argiri in Australia. She moved back to Kythera at an unknown time, probably because she had no husband to support her. She died on 31 August 1975 and is buried in Potamos cemetery. She is buried with a Chrisoula and her husband, but only Efthimia is mentioned on the death certificate of Panagiotis, so it is possible Argiro had another child after her divorce.

Grave of Argiro Theodorakaki in Potamos Cemetery. Photo Kytherian Genealogy Grave Project.

Peter stayed in Sydney until his death of a incarcerated hernia and surgical shock on 10 November 1932, aged 50. At the time he was living at 44 Smith Street Sydney and was a fish cleaner. He was buried at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Cemetery, Botany in an uνmarked grave plot GB - General FM B, Position 0321.

The unmarked grave of Peter Protopsaltis in Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park, Sydney.

This story in itself is not unusual, especially at the time in Australia. What is unusual is that the divorce case seemed to be a bit of a landmark case in Queensland. In March 1933, a Dutch couple were in court getting a divorce. They were married in Holland and only had theιρ Dutch marriage certificate. The court could not read the documents or even prove they were legal documents. The lawyers referred to the Protopsaltis case, claiming that that case proved “when foreign parties had gone through a form of marriage and lived together for some time afterward, that was sufficient evidence of marriage.” As long as the Dutch couple could prove that there was a ceremony and they actually lived together afterward, then the marriage could be accepted and a divorce could be granted.

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